How About a Little Snack?
How to Use Mindfulness to Overcome Cravings
Oh, Winter…what is it about you that makes us so hungry all the time?
Don’t you realize that this is our time of resolve?!
Do you forget dear Winter, that we are gearing up for light breezy fabrics which will offer glimpses of our silhouette, show off our limbs, and (gulp!) are not black???
How do you expect us to pass up such small comforts when we are so often bored; stuck indoors for your long dark nights that begin even before our work day is over?!!!
Statistically speaking, winter is the most difficult time to change your eating habits and the most popular time to attempt it.
It’s difficult because your body is still in tune with ancient wiring designed to protect you from succumbing to starvation and hypothermia. And popular because, well… it’s popular because beach body. (yipe!)
If you're like me and you find yourself and your healthier goals at odds with Sir Winter and his echoes of ancient survival needs, you can use your mindfulness practice to ease the way and keep you on track even when he pulls the ole’ Polar Vortex out of his bag of tricks!
Three Steps to Mindful Snacking (Take that Winter!)
Naturally, before you even begin, you’ll need to pause and take a few breaths to center yourself. As you know, this is the critical moment in all mindfulness practice that pulls you out of reactivity and into noticing and choice.
What do you want? The problem isn’t really the snack. It’s the mindless one that is consumed before it is even consciously selected, leaving you still yearning after it’s gone.
So choose.Think about the types of treat(s) that would satisfy in the moment. Are they warm or cold? Sweet or savory? What else is important about them to satisfy the craving?
(Hint: Sometimes, this little exercise is enough to realize that there’s nothing that you actually want to eat. You’re just bored or cold or etc.. and so an activity or a giant snugly sweater will do just as well.)
Let your brain kick in. Turn off the judge (that inner jerk who’s trying to tell you what is and isn’t OK to want is just going to get in the way here).
Peruse the choices you came up with and think about which one will best serve your craving and your goal.
Maybe it’s a hot beverage will suffice or an option that is 100% in line with your goal. Sometimes though, it’s something really specific, and really decadent. In those cases let your brain choose the best way to indulge. (Maybe you’ll share it with a friend, have a measured amount or simply allow the moment to be a moment of intentional indulgence.)
Enjoy it. This is sooooo important. Cravings continue and grow when they are answered with reactivity (i.e. mindlessly eating chips over the sink out of the bag while you’re staring out the window). In those cases, your brain doesn’t have the chance to realize that the craving is being met.
So savor your choice. Make it a mindful exercise in it’s own right. Take your time. Think of nothing else. Focus your full attention and all five of your senses on the experience.
A little goes a long way when you’re in the moment. Your brain and body will thank you for it.